Intra-cellular Staphylococcus aureus alone causes infection in vivo

Therwa Hamza, Matthew Dietz, Danh Pham, Nina Clovis, Suzanne Danley, Bingyun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chronic and recurrent bone infections occur frequently but have not been explained. Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is often found among chronic and recurrent infections and may be responsible for such infections. One possible reason is that S. aureus can internalize and survive within host cells and by doing so, S. aureus can evade both host defense mechanisms and most conventional antibiotic treatments. In this study, we hypothesized that intra-cellular S. aureus could induce infections in vivo. Osteoblasts were infected with S. aureus and, after eliminating extra-cellular S. aureus, inoculated into an open fracture rat model. Bacterial cultures and radiographic observations at post-operative day 21 confirmed local bone infections in animals inoculated with intra-cellular S. aureus within osteoblasts alone. We present direct in vivo evidence that intra-cellular S. aureus could be sufficient to induce bone infection in animals; we found that intra-cellular S. aureus inoculation of as low as 102 colony forming units could induce severe bone infections. Our data may suggest that intra-cellular S. aureus can "hide" in host cells during symptom-free periods and, under certain conditions, they may escape and lead to infection recurrence. Intra-cellular S. aureus therefore could play an important role in the pathogenesis of S. aureus infections, especially those chronic and recurrent infections in which disease episodes may be separated by weeks, months, or even years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Cells and Materials
Volume25
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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